The V.I. Public Finance Authority Board of Directors’ approval to negotiate with First Bank Puerto Rico to borrow $100 million for the buyout of the contract between the Water and Power Authority and Vitol was a quick action item on its agenda Wednesday, and its most controversial.
How funds were being paid to Vitol was questioned at the Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate in April approved the buyout agreement, with the plan being to borrow the money that would if approved by HUD, be repaid through grant money.
The PFA had earlier approved applying for the loan in a poll vote and Wednesday was formalizing that vote.
During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Office of Management and Budget Director Jenifer C. O’Neal, who is also a member of the PFA board, testified that the $100 million line of credit requested by the governor’s financial team had not been closed, thus resulting in $45 million being taken from the General Fund to pay Vitol, WAPA’s propane supplier. She added that the interest on the loan would most probably be 6 percent.
The resolution approved Wednesday stated negotiations were to “prepare, execute and deliver one or more line of credit or revenue anticipation note or promissory note in the maximum amount of $100,000,000 for a term not to exceed Sept. 30, 2026, at an interest rate not to exceed 9 percent per annum.”
Senators questioned whether it was legal for the executive branch to use money from the General Fund when the Senate only approved using money from the loan. Vitol had given a deadline at the end of last month for a $45 million payment.
The board also approved its staff to enter a one-year contract on behalf of the Office of Disaster Recovery with Integrated Solutions Corporation to continue to provide hosting, maintenance, and licensing for the Portfolio Management System. The contract would be retroactive to Nov. 15, 2022, and with a total fixed amount of $470,062.80.
Another contract the board authorized was for the executive director to extend for one year with Gaffney-Kline & Associates, Inc., effective May 24, 2023, to May 23, 2024, to continue to monitor refinery and terminal operations, provide reports and related payment calculations; ensure compliance with the governing agreements; and keep the Government, the Authority and its advisors apprised of any technical, commercial, or general industry sector conditions or issues that may impact the terminal or refinery’s operations and physical and financial performance.
A Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Reporting Policy was also adopted by the board as well as amendments to the Procurement Procedures Manual of the Financial Management Policies for the Authority.
Stephan Adams, the president and CEO of viNGN — the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network — updated the board on his plans to bring free Wi-Fi to parks, ports, schools, hospitals, beaches, public housing, shopping districts, community centers, government offices, and street corners.
Attending the meeting, chaired by Gov. Albert Bryan, were Director O’Neal, Dorothy Isaacs, and Keith O’Neale.